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Stormin' Norman:
a Jersey Shore Legend

By Gary Wien

If you're a fan of Bruce Springsteen, you may have heard the story about how Clarence Clemons was playing in a bar one night when Bruce walked in and was blown away by the music. The band Clarence was playing in was led by Norman Seldin, and while that moment may be part of rock and roll history, it's just one part of the Stormin' Norman legend.

Seldin was something of a child prodigy, playing shows in the sixties as a teenager and even booking national acts. What made him stand out from other promoters (other than being a teenager) was how he was one of the only people booking black artists at the time.
"I suffered for it," admitted Seldin. "I can't tell you how many nights I came out with N.I.G.G.E.R. carved into my car. And I was Jewish, which made it even worse.

"It didn't register with me because at a young age, I realized that if you were Jewish or Greek or something like that you were kind of an odd ball in this area. Being different didn't mean anything to me. All I knew was if you bled to death or had a heart attack you would still die and I would die the same as they would."

Years later when Clemons would join Seldin's band, The Joyful Noyze, the situation still hadn't improved much. Asbury Park was the site of one of the nation's most visible riots on July 4, 1970. When Norman asked Clarence to join his band, he was breaking the racial barrier yet again. Bands simply weren't integrated yet.

"It led to having 8 months of work cancelled," recalled Seldin. "Owners would say ‘we want to have your band, but you can't bring that nigger with you.'"

The band was forced to find new places to play. Seldin says they played weddings and lots and lots of proms that year. After a while, they were playing so many shows that the same owners who had turned the band down starting calling and told him they wanted to book the band and he could bring the guy with him.

"I said great and then I'd charge them about 60% more for the rate. They'd say what's this? I said, that's for the guy you didn't want me to bring."

Although he had plenty of success as a teenage promoter, everything almost came crashing to a halt on the day John F. Kennedy was assassinated. Seldin had sunk all of his money into Johnny Thunder, his first national act who was in the Top 10 of the charts at the time with "Loop De Loop".

The show was scheduled for Friday, November 22, 1963. By the early afternoon, word was out everywhere that the President had been shot. The phone started ringing non-stop with people cursing Norman out, telling him he had to cancel the show.

Unfortunately, not only did he sink all of his money into the show, but he booked six additional acts. Rescheduling would have been a nightmare - especially on such short notice, so the show went on and about 350 people came out. Seldin says that many of the attendees said things were so bad that they needed an outlet that night.

He acquired his nickname as a teenager as well. When he was about 15 or 16, he began hanging around the racetrack at Monmouth Park. He'd be performing three long sets of music at night and still be at the track at 5 or 6 in the morning watching them with the horses. The jockeys began calling him "Stormin' Norman" and the name not only stuck but was officially registered as a racehorse. Seldin says at one time he had around 8 race horses and did well at the Meadowlands and Monmouth Park, but it got too expensive to continue.

These days, Norman is as busy as ever. He plays solo shows, duo shows, trio shows, and shows with dueling pianos. In an area dominated by guitar players, Norman's shows have a bit of their own niche.

"For one of my solo shows the audience can expect anything from Professor Longhair/Fats Domino type of thing to Mississippi Blues and Stride Piano. People get that along with John Prine, Tom Waits and Randy Newman. Usually it's a 3-hour non-stop set. If I'm doing a show and the place is jumping, I don't want to stop!"

"Band shows with me like the 3-piano bands are neat," he says. "That's probably one of the most awesome things to see. There are three 88-note digital pianos across the stage with three guys that are all lead singers. One guy is sequencing drums and bass, so there's a kick to it. The dance floor is out of their mind and then one piano player picks up the guitar and he sounds like B.B. King! We do a mixture of Blind Faith, Jerry Lee Lewis, Steely Dan, Stevie Wonder. We even do some Jimmy Buffet and Bob Marley. It's like a power rock trio but with pianos.

"With the dueling piano shows what we kind of do is look at each other and say let's do some ragtime. We'll start with that or some blues stride. And we trade off solos until the point where you can't sizzle any more, then we end and head into a vocal. It's an actual duel, but one we only do a couple of times a night for 12-15 minutes... but it gets intense."

"To me, the Shore has become a guitar haven, it's all you see," said Seldin. "So, I think it's refreshing. Dueling pianos is the idea of something other than guitars and drums and that really excites them a lot."

While Seldin is known throughout the area as one of the top piano players, he's quick to point out that for every ten piano players you can name there's a hundred more that are better who you never hear of.

"Watch out for the ones you haven't heard of," Seldin warns fellow musicians. "They're the ones you've got to watch out for. The ones that are always in the limelight you don't worry about, but boy... when that one sneaks up it's an awful awakening."

Seldin is rereleasing his last CD, Asbury Park: Then & Now due to heavy demand driven by the Internet. The CD is a virtual Who's Who of Jersey Shore music including several artists who are listed alongside Seldin as one of the Creators of S.O.A.P. ("The Sound of Asbury Park"). Seldin says being on that plaque is pretty special because "they're recognizing that you had a major part in creating something."

That's an understatement...

For more by this author, click here

Riverside Rhythm and Rhyme Presents Patrick Fitzsimmons On December 16
(SUCCASUNNA, NJ) -- Riverside Rhythm and Rhyme (RR&R) presents Patrick Fitzsimmons on Sunday, December 16 from 4:00pm to 6:00pm at the Investors Bank Theatre in Succasunna. Tickets are $20 for general admission; $15 for RAA/SSG/JAM members; and free for those under 18.
Outpost in the Burbs Presents Larry Campbell and Teresa Williams
(MONTCLAIR, NJ) -- Outpost in the Burbs presents Larry Campbell and Teresa Williams on Saturday, December 8th at 8:00pm at the First Congregational Church, 40 South Fullerton Avenue.  Opening the show will be New York City-based singer-songwriter Leslie Mendelson. Outpost volunteers will be accepting donations of new, unwrapped toys for the holiday season for Toys for Tots at the show.
Jann Klose and The Voice's Josett Diaz To Perform At Ethical Brew To Benefit A Cause Close To Home
(TEANECK, NJ) -- On Saturday, December 8th, singer-songwriter and recording artist, Jann Klose will perform at Ethical Brew on behalf of Mind-Builders Creative Arts Center, a community arts and cultural center for children and teens located in Bronx, New York.  Doors open at 7:30, show begins at 8:00pm.
Kenny Chesney To Perform At Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
(ATLANTIC CITY, NJ) -- Focusing on smaller venues and markets not directly impacted by his massive stadium tours, Kenny Chesney sought to make his Songs for the Saints 2019 Tour mirror the intimacy of its namesake album. Inspired by the resilience of the people around him, Chesney doubles down on the human connection for his 2019 tour by seeking those members of No Shoes Nation who have spent the past decade and a half making the trip to stadium markets for what is now a summer tradition. On Saturday, May 11, 2019 he brings the tour to Hard Rock Live at Etess Arena in Atlantic City, NJ.
State Theatre New Jersey presents Cirque Dreams Holidaze
(NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ) -- State Theatre New Jersey presents Cirque Dreams Holidaze on Friday, December 7 at 8:00pm, Saturday, December 8 at 2:00pm and 8:00pm, and Sunday, December 9 at 2:00pm. Cirque Dreams Holidaze, a division of Cirque du Soleil, has become a critically acclaimed, state-of-the-art Broadway musical, and a fun-filled, holiday family show. Tickets range from $35-$98.

"Great Music!" Tavares and Harold Melvin's Blue Notes LIVE! at the Strand Theater
The music of the 1970s is alive and well this Saturday, November 3, 2018 at Lakewood, NJ’s Strand Theater with a concert by the ’70’s R&B and soul groups Tavares and Harold Melvin’s Blue Notes!
"An Amazing Musical Genius!" Brian Wilson LIVE! at the State Theatre
In the music room in the back of our house, there’s an electric bass and amp, two acoustic guitars, a microphone and PA speakers, several pieces of music recording equipment, and a bookcase filled with books on music, not to mention a slew of assorted music memorabilia. But, perhaps, one of the most highly prized items in the room is hanging directly above the piano next to the college music diplomas.
Jazz Saxophonist Don Braden LIVE! at Toms River’s Grunin Center
It’s a breezy day for a new installment of the Jazz On a Sunday Afternoon concert series at Toms River, NJ’s Grunin Center of the Arts this Sunday Oct. 27, 2018 afternoon. Today’s special 3pm performance is entitled Earth, Wind and Wonder and is presented by jazz saxophonist Don Braden.
Charlie Thomas’ Drifters, The Classics IV, and The Brooklyn Bridge LIVE! at The Strand, Lakewood
The stars are out this Saturday Oct. 26, 2018 evening in Lakewood, NJ for a “Golden Oldies” concert featuring Charlie Thomas’ Drifters, The Classics IV, and The Brooklyn Bridge!
PODCAST: Grammy Winner Terri Lyne Carrington At TD James Moody Jazz Festival
Drummer, leader, and composer Terri Lyne Carrington made history as the first woman to win a Grammy for Best Instrumental Jazz for her album “Money Jungle: Provocative in Blue.” Now, she brings her interpretation of Duke Ellington’s “Money Jungle” to the TD James Moody Jazz Festival at NJPAC on November 11, 2018, as part of a program called “Jazz Vinyl Revisited.” Producer Susan Wallner talks to Carrington about her connections to the jazz greats Clark Terry and Max Roach; her newest project, the Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice; and why she thinks drummers make natural leaders.

Event calendar
Tuesday, Nov 20, 2018

The Madness of George III @ Bickford Theatre at the Morris Museum, Morristown - 2:00pm and 7:00pm


Warren Miller’s Face of Winter @ Mayo Performing Arts Center (MPAC), Morristown - 7:30pm

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